Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton, re-energized movie and TV star
Rome to Los Angeles, Summer 1969
Film: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Release Date: July 26, 2019
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips
I recently had the good fortune to rejoin my friend Peter Brooker on his excellent podcast, From Tailors With Love, joined by John Williams of James Bond Radio to talk about the style in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Tarantino’s ode to the movie industry at the close of the 1960s.
Though Once Upon a Time in Hollywood cycles through the orbit of real-life stars like Sharon Tate, Steve McQueen, the Mamas and the Papas, and James Stacy—to name just a few—the central story focuses on the dynamic between the fictional actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his best friend, the laconic stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt).
The movie begins with Rick coming to terms with his “washed-up” career, his desperation leading to a meeting with talent broker Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino), who suggests spaghetti westerns as the gateway to the next phase of Rick’s career. Following Rick’s impressive performances on episodes of The F.B.I. and Lancer, Schwarz books him four back-to-back gigs in Italy, where he also meets and marries the beautiful starlet Francesca Capucci (Lorenza Izzo) as his stardom climbs to new heights. Continue reading
Griffin Dunne as Paul Hackett, mild-mannered data processor
New York City, Spring 1985
Film: After Hours
Release Date: September 13, 1985
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Rita Ryack
Friday the 13th is traditionally a day for bad luck, so it’s appropriate that Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, centered around one New Yorker’s evening of arguably bad luck, was released on Friday the 13th in September 1985.
A surreal black comedy with elements of neo-noir, After Hours begins just before 5:00 for Paul Hackett, a data processor ostensibly living the yuppie dream with his secure job and Manhattan apartment… but the job sucks, his apartment’s cramped despite no one to share it with, and he has no social life outside of training new employees. In search of any human connectivity into his life, Paul takes his dog-eared copy of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer to an all-night diner. Continue reading
Waylon Jennings, outlaw country star
Hazzard County, Georgia, Fall 1984
Series: The Dukes of Hazzard
Episode: “Welcome, Waylon Jennings” (Episode 7.02)
Air Date: September 28, 1984
Director: Bob Sweeney
Creator: Gy Waldron
Costume Supervisor: Bob Christenson
After six seasons as Hazzard County’s official off-screen “balladeer”, country legend Waylon Jennings finally showed more than just his hands on the long-running series about those two celebrated good ol’ boys.
Sidney Poitier as Eddie Cook, expatriate jazz saxophonist
Paris, Fall 1960
Film: Paris Blues
Release Date: September 27, 1961
Director: Martin Ritt
Ten years ago, the United Nations established April 30 as International Jazz Day, a global celebration envisioned by Grammy-winning musician and UNESCO Goodwill ambassador Herbie Hancock “to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe.” The observance feels ideal for taking a first look at the sleek style in Martin Ritt’s cooler-than-ice 1961 drama, Paris Blues, starring Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier as yankee jazzmen making their living in a French nightclub and romancing a pair of American tourists played by Joanne Woodward and Diahann Carroll. Continue reading
Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash, rising country rock star
Texarkana, Texas, Summer 1955
Film: Walk the Line
Release Date: November 18, 2005
Director: James Mangold
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips
Tailor: Pam Lisenby
Eighty-nine years ago on February 26, 1932, J.R. Cash was born in Arkansas. His childhood was dominated by music, as there was little else to encourage the family enduring the hard years of the Depression made worse by a dangerous flood and the violent death of Jack, one of the seven Cash children. It was when he joined the military that the 18-year-old Cash expanded his first name as the Air Force wouldn’t allow just initials, though it wasn’t until cutting his first recording at Sun Records that he established the name that would become legendary: Johnny Cash. Continue reading
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss
New Jersey, Fall 2001
Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “The Weight” (Episode 4.04)
Air Date: October 6, 2002
Director: Jack Bender
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
I know it’s only been a week since my last post about the style of The Sopranos, but I have a great reason for returning to my favorite show as today happens to be the birthday of my friend Gabe, the hardworking curator of @tonysopranostyle on Instagram. Having attained more than 30,000 followers in less than a year on the platform, @tonysopranostyle remains an authoritative and entertaining source of information for everything James Gandolfini wore during his iconic tenure portraying the boss of the New Jersey Mafia, from his boldly printed shirts and velvet tracksuits to his gold jewelry and cigars.
Not just an expert, Gabe also puts his money where his mouth is, tracking down and purchasing many shirts in the original designs from the manufacturers who were sourced by costume designer Juliet Polcsa for the series. Gabe started his collection in late 2016 when, having read Christopher Hooton’s interview with Polcsa for The Independent, he used the brands cited by Polcsa to find a black Alan Stuart shirt with the same scattered abstract pattern that Gandolfini wore for a few scenes in the fourth season episode “The Weight”. Continue reading
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, “rock star” chaos theorist
“Isla Nublar”, 120 miles west of Costa Rica, Summer 1993
Film: Jurassic Park
Release Date: June 11, 1993
Director: Steven Spielburg
Costumes: Mitchell Ray Kenney, Sue Moore, Kelly Porter, and Eric H. Sandberg
International Dinosaur Day is celebrated twice a year, always on June 1st but also the third Tuesday in May, making today—May 19, 2020—the first observance of Dinosaur Day for the year. Why the chaotic timing?
The answer to questions like that may rest with a chaos theorist like Dr. Ian Malcolm, the swaggering, skeptical, and somewhat frantic mathematician portrayed by Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, adapted from Michael Crichton’s novel.
“I bring the scientists, you bring a rock star,” the park’s exuberant founder John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) comments upon the first impressions that Dr. Malcolm makes on Hammond’s distinguished guests from the scientific community, Drs. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern).
“You’ll have to get used to Dr. Malcolm, he suffers from a deplorable excessive personality… especially for a mathematician,” Hammond adds. “Chaotician,” Ian corrects.
Alain Delon as Tom Ripley, charming American con artist and sophisticated sociopath
on Mediterranean Sea off Italy, August 1959
Film: Purple Noon
(French title: Plein soleil)
Release Date: March 10, 1960
Director: René Clément
Costume Designer: Bella Clément
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
As I leave for my annual week at the beach tomorrow, I’ll be hoping to channel the style—if not the discomfort and petty cruelty—of the idyllic-looking, sun-drenched Mediterranean voyage where sociopathic American con man Tom Ripley (Alain Delon) forms an uncomfortable seagoing trio with the brash, arrogant playboy Philippe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet) and Philippe’s demure girlfriend Marge (Marie Laforêt). Continue reading
Larry David as himself, a neurotic comedy writer
Los Angeles, Summer 2002
Series: Curb Your Enthusiasm
Episode: “Chet’s Shirt” (Episode 3.01)
Air Date: September 15, 2002
Director: Robert B. Weide
Creator: Larry David
Costume Designer: Wendy Range Rao
The comedian, writer, and creator of Seinfeld was born 72 years ago tomorrow—July 2, 1947—in Brooklyn. After a career spent behind the scenes, first as a writer on Saturday Night Live before he teamed up with Jerry Seinfeld, Larry finally decided to take a primary role in front of the camera by portraying an even more neurotic version of himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm. What began as an hourlong HBO special has turned into ten seasons and counting of an improvisational comedy masterpiece.
Larry’s latent passion for menswear rears its head in “Chet’s Shirt”, not only regarding the titular top but also his choice to make a major investment in an elegant new restaurant… Continue reading
Joe Pesci as Vincent LaGuardia “Vinny” Gambini, fledgling defense attorney
“Beechum County”, Alabama, January into February 1992
Film: My Cousin Vinny
Release Date: March 13, 1992
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Costume Designer: Carol Wood
Happy birthday to Joe Pesci! Though the 76-year-old actor has been mostly retired from acting over the last two decades, he’s occasionally stepped back into the camera lens for a few sporadic screen appearances, most recently a Google Assistant ad that played during Super Bowl LIII and his latest collaboration with Martin Scorsese, The Irishman, scheduled to be released this fall.
Following his notable Oscar win for Goodfellas—and his short, humble acceptance speech that consisted solely of “It’s my privilege, thank you”—Pesci had some fun parodying his excitable screen persona in comedies like Home Alone, the Lethal Weapon series, and My Cousin Vinny.